Palm-weaving… a surviving handicraft – Kuwaitis mastered art for decades

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Kuwait palm weaver Fayrouz Salmeen
Kuwait palm weaver Fayrouz Salmeen

KUWAIT CITY, March 3, (KUNA): Palmweaving is a handicraft Kuwaitis mastered for decades, just like ship-building, pearl-diving and trade across the sea. The country has had plenty of the materials of the industry, palm trees loofas and fronds that were woven together to produce various products, using a five-inch needle.

The white fronds were separated from the stalks before they were completely dry. They were soaked in water to be dyed, then left to dry under the sun, to be soon woven. A major item of palm-weaving in Kuwait was (Sufrah), a mat that comes in various shapes and sizes and used for eating on. It was strong enough to be washed by sea water with no harm done to it.

They were also used for drying shrimps and some herbs. Another item was hand fans (Mahaffa), small ones for personal use in the hot summer, and big ones for grilling, at a barbecue for instance. A third essential product in Kuwaiti houses from palms was a basket (Rout), woven from palm fronds or grapes or pomegranates branches, used for keeping clothes.

The list also comprises straw whisks and mats. To weave a mat, a meter by a meter and a half, one needed up to 50 meters of fronds. Skillful Kuwaitis used fronds for baby cradles and Malalas (hanging baskets to keep food for the next day), in addition to sieves, scuttles, picture frames, trays and a variety of other items.

Fayrouz Salmeen, probably the only Kuwaiti currently practicing the palm-weaving industry, told KUNA that his products have found their way to various foreign fairs. Salmeen is not after money, but rather seeking to preserve popular heritage, since palmweaving is not a lucrative business these days. Many Kuwaitis use these items at home, for decoration as part of the good old days.

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